Thursday, June 30, 2011

We have not forgotten about you, our faithful readers!

So it's the end of June and the blog is, well, languishing as it has every right to do.

Nonetheless, don't think we've forgotten about you or that we aren't improving our minds while baking in the sun. We are English majors! We are always paying attention!

Even when we're on vacation.

As I was recently. In La Quinta, California (think: Palm Springs), where I had time to kind-of-read and not-really-write and where I sat where Greta Garbo once sat (!!!) and figured out the secret to successful screenwriting.

That's right, Garbo came to La Quinta, the resort that gave its name to a town, to be "let alone."

This was her favorite spot:

And here's the historical marker that proves it:

As the sign says, sometimes she let John Gilbert hang out with her. In case you don't remember him, here they are together:

Yep, I know, there's a lot to say about that photo. And they sure don't make movies like that anymore.

And speaking of movies... La Quinta is also where Frank Capra holed up... in the very lovely San Anselmo casita.... to write some stuff you may have heard of: "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "You Can't Take It with You," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Meet John Doe," and—brace yourself—"It's a Wonderful Life."

The resort was, he said, his "Shangri-La for script writing."

I guess so.

... and that's all you have to do, too: just head to the desert, check into a swanky hotel, order some room service, and start writing. What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Graduate Assistant Position with the Regents BA Program for Fall



Academic Year 2011-2012 

Nature of Program: The Regents BA (RBA) Program is a state-wide program offered at WVU through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. This program serves non-traditional students through an innovative program and provides a comprehensive general education without the requirement of a major. The RBA program advices over 300 students per semester with emphasis on individualized program of student to fit the student’s particular needs. RBA students are diverse in age, experience and interests. 

Position Requirements:  The GA position requires helping adult students plan their programs of study, assisting them with registration, updating RBA files and spreadsheets, and contributing to the general operation of the RBA office as needed. 

The assignment requires 20 hours of work per week in the RBA office during regular office hours. Specific times are flexible to accommodate the GA’s classroom schedule as well as the needs of the students. 


·  Enrolled at WVU in a full-time graduate program 2011-12. Preference given to Eberly College of Arts and Sciences students.

·  Excellent communication skills and working with diverse student populations are essential.

·  Ability to work effectively both independently and with supervision

·  Knowledge of WVU’s program offerings and registration system is helpful.

·  Word processing and computer skills are necessary.

·  Ability to create and analyze spreadsheets for student trends and records management is necessary. 

Eligibility: To be eligible for this position, applicants must have been admitted to a full-time graduate program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. If no suitable candidate is found, applicants outside the college will be considered. 

Stipend: $11,200 for nine months plus tuition waiver and basic health insurance. Starting date: August 16, 2011 and runs through May 15, 2012. 

Application: For an application contact the Regents BA Office, 221 Armstrong Hall. Phone: 293-5441.  Interview is required. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by June 29, 2011 and continue until a suitable candidate is found.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stiff Dick and other Appalachian wonders

Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke in The
House in the Wood and Other Fairy
  (London, 1909)
Stop me if you've heard this one.

Once upon a time,
...this orphan boy's a going along, traveling, [and] he had him a paddle.  Walking along, [he sees] seven of these big old green flies a settin'.  And he upped his paddle and killed seven at the lick.  He traveled on, and then he went and had a buckle put on his belt and had it printed on his buckle,

Stiff Dick:
Killed Seven at a Lick.

First thing he knowed, he got to the king's house, and he went in and stayed 'til dinner.  And the king, he got done eating and he happened to notice this on his belt.  When he got done eating, he said, "You must be a terrible warrior."  Says, "Here it is on your belt: 'Stiff Dick:  Killed Seven at a Lick.'"

Says, "You're the very man I've been looking for.  I've got a job for you.  There's a unicorn and a lion and a wild boar in these woods that destroyed--no telling the people and stock that they destroyed.  I never could run acrost no man brave enough to destroy 'em--til you."
Some of the tenants might recognize this as a cognate of the Grimm Brothers' "The Brave Little Tailor," but this version was collected in 1939 from Samuel Harmon of Maryville, Tennessee.  And it's one of many traditional European folk- and fairy tales that migrated to the U. S., and specifically to Appalachia, that Carl Lindahl of the University of Houston will be focusing on with participants in the English Department's 20th annual Summer Seminar in Literary and Cultural Studies.

Even if you're not participating in the whole seminar, though, you can find out more about these narrative gems when Prof. Lindahl kicks off the seminar with a public lecture titled "The Magic of the Eternal Frontier" this Thursday evening, June 9th, at 7:30 p.m. in 130 Colson Hall.

Please join us for the lecture and stick around for a reception afterward.  Honorary belt-buckle to be awarded to the attendee who can eat seven Flying WV cookies in one lick.

If you're feeling more low-brow, check out this 1938 Mickey Mouse version.

BTW, the hero of Harmon's story never quails at the prospect of catching giants or killing unicorns.  Get it together, Mickey!

Please Welcome Our Newest Tenant...

Miss Jordan Ruth Woods, daughter of our very own Jill Higgins and her husband, Josh Woods (he's from sociology, but we guess that's ok).

Here's the family celebrating Jordan's 24-hour birthday.

And I just saw the three of them walking along Maple Ave. last week and I can attest to the cuteness of Miss Jordan and the happiness of mom and dad.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Congratulations to Renee Nicholson

Congratulations to Renee Nicholson, who has been named the 2011 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State-Altoona. She'll be in Altoona for the Fall 2011 semester, and she'll teach one creative writing class, give a couple of readings, and have lots of time to write.

This is an excellent opportunity. How excellent? Read up about it here:

Altoona will get as good as it gives: Renee, who holds an MFA from WVU, is a terrific teacher, and Penn State-Altoona's students will be fortunate indeed to have her on campus.

Way to go, Renee!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WVU student bulletin, June 1951

Cover of the 1951 student bulletin, featuring Wise
Library (the newer part of the current library
occupies the lawn seen in the foreground).
On a recent visit, my mother (a WVU alum, M. A. 1951) gave me a copy of the WVU Bulletin from June 1951.  She'd found it--where else?--in the basement/family archive, where my dad (also an alum: B. A. 1949, M. A. 1951) had squirreled it away.

I mean, you never know when you might need to know whom to write to for information about off-campus housing, which was even then at a premium.   Ladies, you need to contact the Dean of Women.  Good luck finding her.

Since it's been exactly sixty years since its June 1951 printing, it seemed like a good time to take a stroll down memory lane and see what campus life was like back in the day.   Clearly, some aspects of academe are immemorial...but others have changed radically.

(Note: you should be able to click on the photos to see larger versions of them.  It's worth it to read the captions.)

Here's Colson Hall, then the College of Law:

--which appears on a page with several other recognizable edifices:

 Can you imagine a time when Brooks was the fancy new building? And the English Department was in Armstrong?

Here's a classic shot of English majors and one of their professors doing English-y stuff:
Looks to me like the woman second from the left is more interested in the guy across the table than in that old book.  Again: then as now.  But when was the last time anyone saw a professor, much less a student, in a coat and tie?

Advising obviously hasn't changed much in sixty years either.  Only now, the headache this guy appears to be getting is as likely to be caused by STAR or Degree Works as by a student.
The Mountainlair existed then, but it was a different building on the same site.  Can't help but feel a little nostalgic about some of the amenities the old one had, like a real soda fountain:
However, I think we can safely say that locating showers inside the dorm has become more or less de rigeur:
Dresser scarves, however, no longer are.  More's the pity.

But there were Gleeks!
It's hard not to look at some of these pictures and imagine that Morgantown and WVU were much more glamorous, upstanding, hardworking places in 1951, though I know from my parents' stories that both had their share of vice, drunkenness, sexism, racism, callousness, and idiocy.  Then as now.  Notably, I don't think there's a single person of color anywhere in this bulletin, and no mention of services for students who might fall outside of the lily-white, straight, middle-class, able-bodied norm. But again, I know from my folks' stories that there were plenty who did.

Their absence may well have been a conscious part of the university's marketing strategy sixty years ago. 

Just remember, folks, it's all about balance:  "Student social life at the University is carefully planned and supervised.  It offers a wholesome type of recreation without taking emphasis off education."